Game Preview #20 - I Come Seeking Retribution

The Blue Jackets head to Canada's capital city looking to sack it and get some payback.

Blue Jackets at Senators - 7:30 PM
Game Faceoff

"Revenge / I'm screaming revenge again"
--"Mouth for War" by Pantera

I'm generally a pacifist by nature. Two wrongs don't make a right. Turn the other cheek. All of that silly stuff.

Not tonight.

While it's not Ottawa's "fault" that the Blue Jackets allowed them to steal their souls in that fourth game of the season, it none the less happened. The Jackets probably can accurately look back and mark that game as the end of Todd Richards' tenure here, even though he coached three more games. Columbus held leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 in that game. Each time, they held the lead for less than five minutes of game clock time. Columbus gave up five straight goals, including an empty netter. Turnovers galore, with each one seeming to end up in the back of the Jackets' net.

In some ways, that game feels like such a long time ago. That said, it was when I officially knew we were in trouble. Something was definitely wrong.

I don't know that professional athletes carry much of a "revenge" factor around from game to game. They will outwardly say all the right things. But, after a loss like that one on your home ice, it's hard to imagine that the Jackets players haven't been looking forward to this one just a bit. No one likes getting humiliated at any level of sports, and that last meeting was nothing short of a complete humiliation. One assumes that, if the identity we're hoping to see continue to be built is real, the Jackets want to return the favor, just a little bit.

These teams match up pretty evenly on paper, and Special Teams will be interesting. The Sens' PP unit has been humming of late, with PPGs in each of their last five games and a 7-for-14 conversion rate. Columbus has killed 29 of their last 32 penalties, and have climbed from dead last all the way to 80.0% and respectability. Conversely, Ottawa has allowed a PPG in 13 of their 18 games, and have given up goals on 13 of 42 penalties in their last 13 games (which means they're converting at just a 69% clip). Columbus's Power Play has been slightly better on the road and is still a top 10 unit overall in the league. Penalties--and who takes more of them--may go a long way toward settling this one.

Part of the reason I say that is that Ottawa hasn't been a strong EV team overall. Their possession numbers at EV are pretty pedestrian-to-bad, and since the last time these two teams played the Sens have scored and allowed the same number of goals at even strength (they're -1 on special teams, with eight PPGs and nine PPGAs). In short, Ottawa is neither good nor bad, really. They just kinda... are.

It's no secret that the Jackets are not the same Jackets we saw when these teams last played. To compare, since the hiring of Tortorella (and even including the Minnesota game which he'd been the coach of the team for all of about 10 minutes beforehand), Columbus is +2 in goals at EV and +5 on Special Teams (nine PPGs, one SHG, and five PPGA).

Ottawa is another of those teams like Vancouver that isn't great in terms of pure wins and losses, but they've managed to get half of their losses to OT to grab those extra points. The Jackets remain the only team in the league not to play in overtime yet, which is crazy in and of itself.

Four in a row, let's make it happen. And, if you want to return the favor on some of that embarrassment, I'm totally OK with that, too.

Obviously, the biggest roster news is that Jared Boll is on IR after a shot block off his foot the other night. Josh Anderson has been recalled to take his spot. In addition, with three games in four days coming up, Michael Chaput has been recalled as well, just in case. With two centers already out, Chaput is insurance there. Curtis McElhinney gets the start in goal tonight, so I expect Sergei Bobrovsky to get both games at home this weekend.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(7-12-0, 14 Points; 8th division, 16th conference)

Boone Jenner Ryan Johansen Brandon Saad
Matt Calvert Nick Foligno Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell William Karlsson Rene Bourque
Kerby Rychel Gregory Campbell Josh Anderson
Jack Johnson David Savard
Ryan Murray Cody Goloubef
Fedor Tyutin Kevin Connauton
Curtis McElhinney
Sergei Bobrovsky

Ottawa Senators
(8-5-5, 21 Points; 2nd Division, 7th Conference)

Mike Hoffman Kyle Turris Bobby Ryan
Matt Puempel Mika Zibanejad Mark Stone
Milan Michalek Jean-Gabriel Pageau Alex Chiasson
Curtis Lazar Zack Smith Chris Neil
Marc Methot Erik Karlsson
Patrick Wiercioch Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki Chris Wideman
Craig Anderson
Matt O'Connor

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